To start with, I find it rather amusing that the writing of this particular blog post was delayed by Nugget deciding that she wasn’t actually ready for bed after all.
Every child goes through a portion of their life where they decide to become truly willful, and they will push the threshold of what they can get away with. Nugget is already starting to experiment with this herself, at the ripe old age of 17 months. The most prevalent seem to be when she pushes back bedtime because she just isn’t ready for sleep quite yet, or as we sometimes call it, taking after her father. This is naturally compounded with her getting the merest of naps in a car. Doesn’t matter if she was able to sleep for an hour or for 5 minutes, she somehow believes that car naps are the equivalent of sleeping for a good three hours, and can actually take the place of a real nap. Now, it’s possible that she’s just found a way to power nap already, but it’s more likely that she’s been thrown off slightly, but it can make for interesting bedtimes.
Another big activity for Nugget, which is in direct opposition to what she’s been taught to do, is her decision to stand on seating surfaces. Whether it’s the couch or her chair, there are very few nights were there isn’t a stern “butt down” issued from either myself or HawtWife. Nugget must think that this is especially hilarious, because that’s the only reasoning I can come up with for her regular stand/sit/stand/sit ritual that she does. And yes, she does wait for one of us to instruct her to sit properly before plopping her bottom down, which proves that she’s doing it intentionally. There are plenty of other examples, as well, and a lot of them occur with a chorus of “nonononononono” spilling from Nugget’s lips.
Now, these willful activities are a part of growing up. That’s completely understandable. And, to her credit, Nugget is clearly testing boundaries, but not really going over them. After all, she isn’t waiting until we’re angry before doing what she’s supposed to; she’s waiting specifically until we notice. She’ll often repeat the actions because she’s getting attention for them, and we’re going to continue to give her the attention because the activities are often just a step below dangerous, and we kinda want to keep Nugget around for a bit, yet. However, there’s one thing that has been incredibly noticeable about Nugget doing this.
She’s specifically testing HawtWife.
Why do I say that? Honestly, for the same reason I told HawtWife it. One day, when Nugget was being especially willful, HawtWife apologized to me for being a little short with our daughter, saying that I probably dealt with that kind of stuff all day. Except I don’t, and I said so immediately.
I really don’t. Sure, sometimes she’ll get an idea of a specific thing she wants to do, or doesn’t want to hold my hand when we’re walking, but those daytime moments are truly minor. For the most part, when Nugget is alone with me, she’s very well-behaved, and doesn’t try to see what she can get away with. Instead, she’ll focus on other sorts of play and learning (things she will also do with her mother, but they’re done in a different fashion). As soon as HawtWife comes home, however, Nugget starts testing her boundaries all over again. Which is why we’re pretty sure she’s testing her mother. But why?
She’s making sure that mom will come back.
Nugget is with me a lot of the time. The majority of time where Nugget is with just one parent, it’s with her father. I’m clearly a stable thing for her, and she knows that, no matter what, I’ll be there. She doesn’t feel a strong need to push boundaries, because she knows that I’m going to continue to be by her side, and she relies on that. Given that HawtWife is the one who works a regular job, and is out of the house a lot more, Nugget wants to make sure that she isn’t able to push her away. She’ll experiment a little more with things that are contrary to what she’s been told, because she wants to know that mom is always going to be there, too. That, and there’s an element of testing the waters, to see if both parents will stick to the same guns when it comes to the rules.
Of course, there’s also the element of added safety that both parents united can provide, but that’s clearly only a part of the equation. If that was the entirety, then I would expect Nugget to be less willful when I’m away. However, from some of the stories I’ve heard, my absence doesn’t slow her down much in that aspect.
I can only wait until she starts communicating more clearly. I’ve got a feeling that the willfulness is just beginning.